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Listen to the audio guide to using Amazon Alexa and Google Home

Electronic personal assistants have been hugely useful for people who are blind or have low vision.

They are hands free, voice activated devices that vocalise information back to you.

It means you don’t have to be reliant on a computer to browse the internet, and helps you maintain your independence.

There are two widely available electronic personal assistants that are currently on the market - Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

There are others but these are the two most commonly used.

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There are a range of models for both units and can range in price from $39 to $550.

Product features

Amazon Alexa is available with a number of models, some with screens (5 inch, 8 inch and 10 inch models are available).

To get started you can purchase a smart speaker called an Echo Dot. This is the lowest priced unit in the range. It is a spherical speaker that comes in a number of colours.

Amazon Alexa

Google’s electronic assistant is also available on a number of devices, but the cheapest option is to purchase a small smart speaker called a Google Nest Mini.

It is a flatter speaker than the Amazon’s Echo dot and needs to be connected by a cord, and comes in a number of colours.


In the table below are common commands grouped by theme to help you use your electronic personal assistant.

Amazon Alexa Google Home
Wake up command
  • Alexa!
  • Hey Google! Or Ok Google!
Stop or pause
  • Alexa stop
  • Hey Google, stop
Calendar, date, time
  • Alexa, what time is it?
  • Alexa, what’s the date?
  • Alexa, set an alarm for 7am.
  • Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes.
  • Alexa, schedule a meeting with Mark tomorrow at 4PM.
  • Alexa, wake me up every weekday at 7am.
  • Alexa, what’s on my calendar?
  • Alexa, add an event to my calendar.
  • Alexa, remind me to take my medication at 12 noon.    
  • Hey Google, what's the time?
  • Hey Google, what’s the date?
  • Hey Google, set an alarm for 7.30 tomorrow morning.
  • Hey Google, snooze the alarm
  • Hey Google, what does my day look like?
  • Hey Google,  remind me take my medication tomorrow at 10am.
  • Alexa, what’s the extended forecast?
  • Alexa, what’s the weather like?
  • Alexa, will I need an umbrella today?    
  • Hey Google, what's the weather like today?
  • Hey Google, when is it going to rain?
  • Hey Google, will I need an umbrella today?
  • Alexa, how’s the traffic?
  • Alexa, where is the nearest pharmacy?
  • Alexa, how long will it take for me to get to the airport?
  • Hey Google, take me home. 
  • Hey Google, what are the nearby attractions?
  • Hey Google, Navigate to mum’s place.
  • Hey Google, how do I get home from here?
  • Alexa can play an audible tone in addition to the visual indicator when Alexa detects you saying the wake word.
  • Alexa, turn on Start of Request Sound.
  • Alexa, turn on End of Request Sound.
  • Hey Google, play start sound.
  • Hey Google, play end sound.
  • Alexa, what is one cup in millilitres.
  • Alexa, add eggs to my shopping list.
  • Alexa, what's on my shopping list?
  • Alexa, find me a recipe for a moist chocolate cake?
  • Hey Google, find me a birthday cake recipe.
  • Hey Google, I want to make banana bread.
  • Hey Google, what’s one cup in millilitres? 
  • Hey Google, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?
Left of field
  • Alexa, help me meditate.
  • Alexa, give me some advice
  • Alexa, let's play a game.
  • Alexa, read my mind.
  • Alexa, what's the word of the day?
  • Hey Google, can you pass the Turing test?
  • Hey Google, do you want to be human?
  • Hey Google, tell me something funny.
  • Hey Google, what am I thinking right now?

Tips on how to make Alexa and Google understand you better:

  • Make sure the device can hear you, if you are too far away, or muffled through a wall, it might not register you asked something.
  • Place the receiver or device in a common area and somewhat elevated so it can pick up clear sound.
  • Train them to your voice. Alexa calls it “voice profiles” and Google calls “voice match.” To help the device adapt to your voice ask Alexa to "learn my voice". You don’t have to do this but if it is having problems picking up your voice it may help to do so.
  • Speak normally. If you’ve used primitive voice recognition technology, you’ll be used to giving commands like a robot, for example. “Alexa, add grocery item, bananas”. This technology has come a long way and is actually trained to understand normal speech patterns. So just say, “Alexa, add bananas to my grocery list”.

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Technology advice from Vision Australia

Vision Australia's Access Technology team can help you set up your smart device.

The team is available Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:00am and 5:00pm EST to troubleshoot your issues.

Contact the AT Helpdesk at Vision Australia

Phone: 1300 84 74 66
Email: [email protected]